Karmi is a village in which tombs in shapes of rooms which stem from the Bronze Age were discovered. There is a human effigy in the corridor of one of the tombs. It is said to be the oldest found in Cyprus so far and is also said to be the goddess of fertility. Blue beads and bowls where found in the grave, the beads were gifts for the dead, bowls were for the Minos civilization brought from Crete (Minos is the king of Crete and the son of Zeus and Europa). These items are said to have belong to sailors working on the ships in Lapithos (Lapta). This shows how the various countries interacted in the Bronze Age. The village better known for its name Karmi was a former Greek village and was damaged in a fighting in 1974 and in 1983 the whole village was taken over by the TRNC ministry of tourism. Houses in these area are only leased to foreigners with the provision that they maintain it in the same shape they met it. It has a British feel to it with streets names like Geranium lane or the Crows nest pub. The Greek orthodox village church has been turned into a museum.
The Herbarium/Forest station of Alevkaya features a very traditional set up. Plants have been pressed and preserved in large folders which you are free to view. There is a wealth of information but sometimes hidden behind Latin names. Never the less you can get lots of information about the flora & fauna of Cyprus (orchids, birds, butterflies etc…) The Herbarium was built by the government to provide information to those who are interested in nature.
Tip: You can walk from here to the Ruins of the Armenian Monastery of Soup Marga (short walk) or to the ruins of the Monastery of Antiphonitis (long walk). The BBQ grounds located at the Herbarium can become very lively in the summer season – especially on weekends. If you, like the locals do… like to pack your things and have a BBQ… or just a drink and enjoy watching locals enjoy their weekend then this place if for you.
Antiphonitis Monastery was built originally in the 12 th century AD in a remote area of the Five Finger mountains. The dome of the monastery sits not on four but on 8 columns and the church walls are covered with the remains of frescos. Located only 5 km away from the village of Esentepe the building is now open to the public.
Story: The monastery takes its name –“she who answers”- from the legend in which a poor man and a rich man met at this place. The poor men ask the rich man for a loan, who retorted, “… and who will act as a witness that I have loaned you the money?” to which the poor man replied, “God”. As soon as he had said those words, a celestial voice was heard sanctifying this transaction, and the monastery grew up around the miracle.
The Mountains run 80 km along the northern coastline of North Cyprus. The mountain range starts at Kayalar village in the west and ends at the Karpaz peninsula in the east. Its width varies between 8 to 12 km. The northern slopes are covered by pine trees, the southern slopes mainly with bushes. The highest point of the mountain range is the Selvili tepe being 1024 m from sea level.
Information: you may notice an abundance of fire brakers running alongside the mountain slopes. These were established after the big forest fire in 1996, which continued for a period of three days and destroyed a large part of the Girne forest. Reforestation efforts can be seen everywhere alongside the road.
The best preserved of the three crusader castles, St. Hilarion possesses a fairy-tale quality that makes the visitor wonder what it must have been like to live here during the medieval period. Having been built on a double peak of 732m it provides a superb view over Girne and the costal areas to the east and west. Originally built by the Byzantines in the 7th century as a watch tower, it was enlarged into a castle during the 10th century and repeatedly modified in the following 400 years. Most of its present shape dates back to the period between the 12-14 th centuries. Story: Local legend credits the castle with having 101 rooms, of which 100 could easily be found; the last, an enchanted garden, contains a treasure. If you stumbled through the magic door into the 101st room, you would tend to wake up years later, with empty hands among bare rocks…!
Tip: in spring quite a few wild flowers can be seen alongside the path leading up to the top level! There is a handrail available for most of the way.
Buffavento Castle is one of the three Crusader castles originally built by the Byzantines in the 10th century. Located on a 950 m high mountain ridge, the castle does offer a superb view over the northern coastline of Girne. The castles main purpose was that of a look out and prison. Given its location, the steep ascent to the top of the castle should not come as a surprise. The views from the top provide ample reward to the visitor who prevails to climb up the steeper path (in parts a handrail is provided). In the middle of the 15th century Buffavento castle was slowly dismantled by the Venetians and its large stones used for the construction and fortification of other defence structures.
TIP: not recommended in the height of summer since you are almost non-stop exposed to the sun! Highly recommended: proper shoes, sun protection, water and some snack so you can enjoy your time once you have made it to the top!
The Girne Shipwreck Museum, located inside the Girne Castle, houses the remains of the oldest wreck ship known to the world dating back to the 3rd century BC. She sank in open waters less than one mile from the anchorage of Kyrenia, the evidence pointing to her being sunken by rough seas around 300 B.C.
Story: In 1967 a local sponge diver discovered the remains during a dive in over 30 m depth. During the summers of 1968 – 1969 Micheal Katzev from the University of Pennsylvania, Museums Department, directed a survey team using the help of 50 underwater archaeology students and technicians, who employed stereo – photography and other developed techniques to record the position of each object before it was raised. The objects displayed in the museum are the original ones, that where use by the crew of four or were part of the cargo that she carried on her last voyage about 2300 years ago!
The romantic old, horseshoe shaped Girne harbour is located directly next to the Girne Castle. Originally built by the roman’s to protect the city of Girne from sea raids it now caters to the needs of friendlier visitors. The harbour section closest to the Girne Castle still provides anchorage for small fishing boats while the rest of the old harbour accommodates locals as well as visiting tourists alike with its cafes, restaurants and tour boats.
Tip: It is a great place for “people watching”! It can become quite lively (especially Saturday nights)… so maybe you could try a quiet Sunday morning when all you see and meet are fishermen, sleepy cafe personnel and one of the many harbour cats?
The origin of the Girne Castle goes back to the roman period during which there was a harbour on the eastern side of the castle. The fortifications were built by the Romans in the 3rd century in order to protect the city of Girne and its harbour from pirates. Throughout its period of use, the castle was modified a number of time, which is quite evident when you walk through the two different entrance gates (the first one dating back to the Venetian period and after climbing up a steep passageway, the second one dating back to the Lusignans period). The square outer castle shape of today dates back to the Venetian period.
Tip: Inside the castle grounds you can find the amazing ship wreck museum! Housed in a specially acclimatised room are the remains of the oldest ship wreck found, dating back to 300 BC! From on top of the outer castle walls you can take terrific pictures of the old harbour or Girne.